Required age to use courtesy cars?

Discussion in 'Cool Places to Fly' started by David Anthony, Dec 27, 2020.

  1. David Anthony

    David Anthony Filing Flight Plan

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    I got my PPL about 5 months ago and I’m starting to look at doing trips to locations to spend the day at. I am currently 18. From what I’ve heard before, you can’t rent a car if you aren’t 21. What about courtesy cars?
     
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  2. bluesky74656

    bluesky74656 Line Up and Wait

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    I definitely grabbed courtesy cars, even from fancier FBOs, before I was 21. That was... more than a decade ago.
     
  3. RyanB

    RyanB Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    I’m under 25 and haven’t had any issues getting one. They usually just make a copy of your driver’s license, have you fill out a form and off you go.

    YMMV
     
  4. Larry in TN

    Larry in TN Pattern Altitude

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    I don't think there will be one answer that works everywhere. Call the FBOs before you go to find out their policy and availability.

    Same is true for renting a car or a hotel room. Some will let you, some will charge a premium, some won't for any price.

    When I was your age, I was able to rent cars, without paying a premium, due to being an AOPA member and using their group discount code. You might look into any programs like that which might bypass the minimum age requirement.

    Lastly, at 18, you're old enough for Uber and Lyft so you can always use that as a fallback.
     
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  5. mandm

    mandm Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Call and ask the FBO. Typically you should call and reserve a courtesy car before heading out and ask what their policies (duration of taking the car) and fees are. I did it once and was told to return it with full fuel (as expected).

    Sometimes courtesy cars require fuel purchase (if so what is the fuel price, minimum gallons). Any ramp fees, landing fees, tie down fees / parking fees?
     
  6. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I have called scores of times to inquire about courtesy cars. I have never had one allow me to reserve it. They all said "first come, first serve".

    Of course though, that doesn't mean that it doesn't happen somewhere. Just not where I have been.
     
  7. mandm

    mandm Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Oh, I didn’t know that. I have planned a couple trips and always called but I guess now with Covid they are less busy anyway and happy to have someone come through. At least that was my experience.
     
  8. Tarheelpilot

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    I started flying at 16 and have never had an FBO deny courtesy car due to age. Flying the airplane to the FBO is normally good enough for most to figure you won’t wreck their car.
     
  9. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    I’ve gotten cars when I was 19. Every FBO has just asked for my drivers license.
     
  10. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    I think if they figure you flew in, they can trust you with a junk car.
     
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  11. mandm

    mandm Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Junk car? I mean I was given a 2021 Toyota. Thought it was fine. I didn’t expect anything better than that.
     
  12. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    Yeah, some FBOs give classic courtesy cars a bad name. They need to be old cop cars, with a miss, and steering wheel not lined up right.
     
  13. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    If never seen anyone ask about age. If you can responsibly fly an airplane, you can responsibly drive a car. Just show up and ask if a car is available. It might already be gone, so plan a backup - Lyft or Uber usually work.
     
  14. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    I believe most FBOs at Class G airports would look at an 18 yo pilot differently than a car agency renting a car to an 18 yo. If you are going to the Jet Center good luck.
     
  15. ExpressJetter

    ExpressJetter Filing Flight Plan

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    This reminds me of a story that happened to me when I was 19.

    I went to an Alabama airport to get some bbq with friends when I was in college. Grabbed the courtesy car and went out. On the ride back I get pulled over by a State trooper. Apparently the courtesy car was not registered. When I told the officer that the car was a courtesy car that the airport lent me for free, he didn't believe me and gave me a ticket. He stated as a courtesy he was letting me drive off versus towing the vehicle. It actually took me 3 months fighting with the FBO for them to pay for the ticket in which they finally did. So note to everyone and myself since then, check the registration and insurance of the courtesy car before you leave the airport.
     
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  16. NoHeat

    NoHeat En-Route

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    Now that’s something I would never have expected.
     
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  17. NoHeat

    NoHeat En-Route

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    Small airports are keen to have someone land and buy fuel. Phone in advance to ask. Start the conversation by saying that you’re planning to stop for fuel. It will hurt them to say no, so if they must decline they will be nice about it. It’s good to phone anyway, especially for an unstaffed airport, to learn where it’s parked, and where the key is hidden.
     
  18. ElPaso Pilot

    ElPaso Pilot Pattern Altitude

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    Might be more of a personal liability/insurance question than anything else.

    Does the pilot have insurance that allows him/her to drive a non-owned vehicle?

    Would be more concerned about liability than collision for most FBO cars.
     
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  19. ExpressJetter

    ExpressJetter Filing Flight Plan

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    I believe your own Auto insurance would cover you for an issue. If you didn't have auto insurance they FBO's car would have an insurance policy and in that their would be an "un-insured driver" coverage part.
     
  20. wrbix

    wrbix Pattern Altitude

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    Don’t start your conversation with “can I use the courtesy car since I’m less than 21”...that’ll likely prompt inquiries into insurance liability issues which may culminate not in your favor. Just proceed like it’s SOP.
     
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  21. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Not always a good assumption on their part. :redface:
     
  22. Howard Wilson

    Howard Wilson Line Up and Wait

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    My Uncle told a story about flying in to a small airport back in the late forties and being offered a car. He asked the guy "aren't you worried about just anyone taking your car" The guy said "I have your airplane" lol
     
  23. pmanton

    pmanton Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    I'll solve your problem. You're 18, I'm 82. Let's swap ages-You'll be 82 and can use courtesy cars. I'll just have to deal with being 18 again. :p
     
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  24. Tarheelpilot

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    No and I bet they have more problems with the older pilots.
     
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  25. Racerx

    Racerx Line Up and Wait

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    Most courtesy cars I've used were worth far less than the airplane I left in front of their building.
     
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  26. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    You don’t realize how many uninsured drivers are out there these days.
     
  27. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member

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    Bad gamble. The courtesy car is the second most dangerous part of flying, not only because of the car having no brakes and being grossly out of alignment, but also because of our tendency to drive on the centerline when we just got done flying. (The most dangerous part of flying is, of course, getting in and out of the airplane. Lacerate your forehead on a Cub upper door, plant your face in the asphalt getting out of an RV, or break your leg and spine trying to yoga your way into a Meridian, and you’ll know what I mean.)

    Courtesy car policies vary wildly around the country and calling ahead is good advice. Some places will need a blood sample, others are very much “kick the tires and light the fires” affairs. One time, an A&P wrenching on his plane gave me his personal pickup keys because the courtesy car battery was dead, and another time I felt like using the car was such a burden on the FBO that I got an Uber instead. Go with the flow of where you are traveling. But one thing is a constant. If the check engine light is off, you are not in the courtesy car and the police will probably be called when Jetset Executive Smith or FBO Owner Jones notices his car is missing.

    Actually, as with all rules, there’s an exception to that one. Two, really. First, sometimes the CEL has burned out. And second, I’ve used an airport courtesy car that predated the CEL as we know it today. Just as I was commenting that it wasn’t lit and thinking the car was too old to have a light, it came on, but it was intermittent unlike the new ones that stay on until reset through OBD2.

    All jokes aside, though, I’d rather hand my keys to a teenager who is responsible enough to solo an airplane than to any of the numerous “adult” drivers who struggle to understand whose turn it is at the four-way stop or what that flashing yellow arrow could mean. You should be fine.
     
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  28. ElPaso Pilot

    ElPaso Pilot Pattern Altitude

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    Assuming the 18 year old owns a car and has insurance.

    Also, having visited many unoccupied small-town airports, with a decrepit ex-squad car out back, keys in a coffee can and an old sign-out book in the top desk drawer (name, N-number, and phone only, no proof of insurance or license), I wouldn’t necessarily bet my paycheck that the car is covered for that use...

    Insurance guys here - if a teenager is a listed driver of a parent’s vehicle, are they also generally covered on any borrowed/non-owned vehicle they drive??
     
  29. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Pattern Altitude

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    I am finding that courtesy cars are offline.

    Flagstaff, Tucumcari, and a few other small airports have their CCars no longer avail due to COVID .

    might not be 100%, but certainly worth double checking.
     
  30. cowman

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    Courtesy car policies are pretty random. I know some airports where nobody is around and there's just a set of keys and a sign-out sheet on the desk and others where they wanted a photocopy of my driver's license and insurance. I've been to places where they say to only take the car for an hour but the FBO manager said take it overnight or even for the weekend.

    You pretty much have to call and in some cases even then the situation is still different when you show up.
     
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  31. Brooks

    Brooks Filing Flight Plan

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    Which airport was that at? I am from Alabama, so I want to try to avoid that FBO...
     
  32. ExpressJetter

    ExpressJetter Filing Flight Plan

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    Montgomery alabama. Was back in 2006 so idk if the fbi has changed hands
     
  33. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    Don’t ask, don’t tell. Sure as heck don’t look guilty.
     
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  34. kgruber

    kgruber En-Route

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    I can remember being old enough to rent an airplane...................but not a car!!
     
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  35. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Pattern Altitude

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    I’d go with the don’t ask, don’t tell method.
     
  36. RudyP

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    Sadly, I am well past the age where this is pertinent to me but when I was a teen pilot, I followed the policy above. If you look like you belong and don't make of big deal of it, the FBO person will likely do the same and hand you the keys.
     
  37. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    There may come a time when it becomes pertinent again, I hope for all of us.
     
  38. Kenny Phillips

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    Yeah, I remember always getting some beater ancient station wagon. I always gassed it up. Nobody ever had me sign anything. (BTW, when I was a child my father told me about "airport cars". I thought he was joking until the first time I asked an FBO where a restaurant was, and he handed me keys ... to an ancient station wagon.)
     
  39. Lawson Laslo

    Lawson Laslo Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I've gotten courtesy cars as early as 16 when I'd solo, was never denied a car, even got a new range rover once:cool:
     
  40. flyingron

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    There's two kinds of courtesy cars in the world. Those (usually at larger FBOs) that are effectively rental cars that have rental car like restrictions. Most of them are just some old car (often a retired police car) that they've acquired. Many times out in the center of the country, there's not even been anyone there to give you the keys. You just write your name on a sheet and take it.